In reality, Avatar: The Way of Water is painfully long at 192 minutes, has some of the worst dialogue ever written in a movie, laughable performances, and does nothing new or exciting this time around to even warrant a made-for-tv movie, let alone a giant sloppy spectacle on the big screen. Avatar: The Way of Water is silly, dumb, and most of all - redundant and lacks any quality that resembles entertainment. James Cameron has lost his way and it shows with this sequel. Skip It and don't waste any time on this movie, let alone 3.5 hours during the holidays.
Thirteen years had gone by since James Cameron delivered his new science-fiction epic Avatar to theaters that created a short-lived fad for audiences when they went to theaters. Despite Avatar's rote storylines, ridiculous dialogue, and eerily similar plot points to other films, Avatar went on to become the highest-grossing movie of all time until Avengers: Endgame entered that chat. Now more than a decade later, Cameron brings his sequel Avatar: The Way Of Water into cinemas in the hope of recreating that box office gross that he succeeded in before with those same technical tidbits that upped the price of ticket.
It's not clear when Cameron deviated from his path of amazing films such as Terminator 2, Aliens, The Abyss, and True Lies. Still, somewhere down the road, Cameron inherited that George Lucas trait of making characters and storylines in films only to sell merchandise. It's clearly evident with this sequel as there are so many characters and animals that are on screen for no reason other than to sell a toy and make a quick buck. After thirteen years, one would assume that Cameron took the time to really flesh out a new story with marvelous and magical landscapes with deep characters, but the sad fact is, that this didn't happen at all. Avatar: The Way Of Water feels like it was written twelve hours before a school deadline by a third grader who is struggling to pass English. Cameron and his writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Jurassic World and the live-action Mulan) have conjured a script that's full of nonsense and characters that don't have anything to do but show up, wave at the camera for a cameo, and then leave to never be seen again. It's unbelievable how anyone allowed any of this to be made and make the final cut. People say, "Never bet against James Cameron." Well, bet against this, because it brings nothing to the table with the exception of a long, drawn-out mission statement of saving the whales. That's not a joke either.
Audiences would get more out of Free Willy and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home as a double feature than anything Avatar: The Way of Water brings to the table. But make no mistake, Cameron steals those famous shots from both movies and incorporates them in such a cheesy way in this sequel that the film literally jumps the shark time and time again. Cameron has set up life on Pandora with Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and his wife Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) who are living a peaceful existence with their several kids. After the events of the first film, Sully and the Na'vi are simply enjoying being a family and watching their kids grow up as the first segment of this sequel shows over the course of a few years. Now there are two different kinds associated with Sully and Neytiri in their family. One is a human kid named Spider who is the essential copy of Mowgli from The Jungle Book who runs around in a loin cloth living amongst the Na'vi. Then there is Kiri, the spawn of Dr. Grace (Sigourney Weaver) that somehow goes unmentioned on how it was possible, but has mystical and magical powers that come across as a kid's film about a teenage witch, who all get along with their other native Na'vi offspring.
So at the end of the first film, Sully and the Na'vi defeat the humans and send them packing back to their dying Earth. Meanwhile, a few new Earth ships land on Pandora with Na'vi / human hybrids who might be really familiar to those who watched the first film. That's right, the mean, evil Colonel is back as a Na'vi and his only motivation is hardcore revenge against Jake Sully. That's it. That precious and laughable element unobtanium is nowhere to be found in this sequel because the mission to destroy all the native life and the planet is solely for revenge against one marine. None of this makes sense. If Cameron didn't learn his lesson from the unobtanium parody last time, he, of course, adds a different element this time around in the form of an ooze from a whale's body that could be worth millions. Again, it's downright awful, silly, and makes no sense whatsoever when the film takes everyone on this journey when one of Sully's kids finds and befriends a whale on Pandora.
Avatar: The Way of Water settles into its sequel story when the Colonel and his henchmen force Sully and his family from their home which leads them to run and hide in the ocean where a new tribe of Na'vi lives. They look exactly like the land Na'vi, but they are slightly greener and have small webbing between their fingers to help them swim better. Even their flying dinosaurs are more like flamingos this time around as far as movement goes. This is where one of Sully's kids who is always getting into trouble befriends this whale who can magically talk with subtitles about the pain of his life and past. This segment alone deserves every Razzie award. All of these storylines and characters come to a climax in yet another big battle in the air and underwater where Cameron utilizes his previous movies like The Abyss, Aliens, and Titanic as a way to wink at his fans. But it's done so terribly that no smiles or applause should or will happen.
There are alleged twists and turns that for sure were supposed to make a big imprint in the film, but they are executed so haphazardly and without reason that every single moment or action makes no sense and nothing is returned for a conclusion. Characters show up and decisions are made that only exist for that sequence and never turn up for the rest of the film. Maybe in a future installment, these storylines will crop up, but for this film, there's nothing of the sort. But that's poor filmmaking 101. Performances are bland and dry, and it feels like watching the acting from the Star Wars prequels sans Hayden Christensen. It's that bad. There are a couple of recognizable cameos here, but Cameron never uses them to their full potential and makes the stupidest decisions with them up and down the board, including accents and dialect.
Cameron is bringing Avatar: The Way of Water back to 3D, and it was everyone's hope that the 3D fad was gone, but here it is to rear its ugly head again and it looks the exact same as it did thirteen years ago - bad. It offers no new depth or entertainment value to the film or story. Jackass 3D still has the better 3D element to it. The movie would have played the same if it was in the standard IMAX theater. Now the high frame rate that everyone was introduced to in the first Hobbit movie is on display here as well. While it looks like the image went through a digital carwash with its clarity, there's no real way to see the frame rate, other than on the human skin, since everything is digitally captured. Any filmic element is lost in this movie and seems like everyone is watching a live, prime-time stage musical. Sure, there are pretty colors to look at, but that in no way makes a movie good. Even the Dolby Atmos sound design was less-than-desired as every explosion was too soft or low-key.
Avatar: The Way of Water is one of the worst movies to be released this year and is perhaps the worst movie of all time with a budget this big. If this is the way Cameron is going with his next three sequels, he should hang up his director's coat and move on to something else. This is bad filmmaking at its finest, which resulted in one of the most terrible movies of the holiday season - ever. An apology should be made for its runtime for a movie that goes nowhere and does the same exact things that its predecessor does. Skip This Film!